Moving to Denver, know nothing west of the Mississippi. Help!
May 15, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to Denver... soon! Aside from one awesome week in San Francisco, I've never even been west of the Mississippi. Help this Georgia girl find a place to love.

I am so excited (In that I hope I don't puke on anybody way) to be moving to Denver. The job starts mid-September, but I will be ready to head out anytime from mid-July on. I could really use your input on where to live as I'm really not sure that I'll be able to go look before I can move. We really love our neighborhood now and I'm going to let that inform where I would like to live.

So things I love about where I live now:
*I can easily walk or bike (>1.5 miles) to multiple different bars/restaurants/shops/music venues/theaters.
*I live in a very small attic apartment, but what I pay corresponds to the size. $700 w/utilities in this case.
*No one thinks its weird if I go running after dark, there are lots of people running and biking and there is a recreation trail close that connects parts of downtown.
*It is very diverse and artsy in that, no one gives a fuck what you do, kind of way.
*I live a scant two miles from downtown proper and the capital, but my neighborhood is very homey, with modest historic homes and cute and eclectic yards and facades.

Other Considerations:
*My husband is going to be at Buckley AFB in Aurora. I don't want his commute to be awful.
*The suburbs both make us very sad. We really don't want strip malls or slick, new apartment complexes.
*Urban bike/walk-ablility is pretty important. I assume almost everywhere is going to have good access to some awesome wilderness hiking/activity stuff.
*We're not scared of people or city stuff. Ha. When looking at military spouse forums I feel like there is a lot of "safe places to live" which feels like code for "please shelter me from those who are different."
*We love zoos, city parks, green spaces, etc.
*At a glance I'm not seeing subdivided houses, small house, etc on Craigslist mostly just straight up bland apartment complexes. We will be there about 3 years, I don't want to buy.
*Accordingly, I am kinda thinking the City Park, Uptown, or Five Points area. I don't know! I've never been there, this is all google here!
*We absolutely don't want to live on base.
*We are hoping to spend between 900-1000/mth, but could go over if there are a lot of other places.

Man, that's a lot, but really just good, fun, easy, moderate size city living is what we're after. What do you have to say about all this?
posted by stormygrey to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My partner and I moved to Colorado last year without ever having set foot in the state before. It can totally work out! Allow time once you get here to adjust to high-altitude living.

I think the Denver area's great, and I really like living in Glendale. It's very walkable without the exorbitant rent of the downtown neighborhoods, and I see people out walking or biking pretty much every time I go outside. The city-provided amenities aren't all aimed at single-family homeowners (because it's almost entirely multifamily housing, of which 80% is rented). It's nice to feel like I'm wanted by a city, y'know? We've got bars and restaurants, though not as densely packed as they are downtown (though more are opening here!), and it's easy to get downtown by bike or transit (faster by bike than by car). Same side of town as Aurora, so the commute to Buckley shouldn't be difficult at all.

Feel free to MeMail me if you'd like more info. Also, you might look at WalkScore for other neighborhoods to investigate.
posted by asperity at 12:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: City Park could work for you, but I'd recommend the Capital Hill district. It's one of the more densely populated areas in Denver, and seems to be where many people end up living, especially at first. Lots of shops and restaurants nearby, close to downtown, relatively inexpensive. It's where I lived when I first moved to town.

I've lived in Five Points as well; we were in a subdivided victorian that was beautiful, but the neighborhood is still transitional, and it can be very hit-or-miss, block-by-block. For what it's worth, I was fine biking back and forth to work, but my wife never felt safe running there at night. Tough to come by parks as well.

The University/South Pearl area can be nice if you're far enough from the DU campus to steer clear of the college kids. Lived there for a year too. The commute to Buckley would be easier than some of the other areas mentioned above, but it's correspondingly further from downtown.

You could also probably find a place in either Baker or West Wash Park for your price, though there isn't much in the way of high-density housing. You can find some subdivided houses though. We live in Baker and love it; we can walk to all of the South Broadway shops and restaurants, as well as the Santa Fe Art District. Downtown is a long walk or short bike ride. It's similar to what you like about your neighborhood; homey with old houses (most circa 1900) and a mix of old and new.

So, short version: you should be my neighbor.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:21 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

OP: craven_morhead's suggestions are spot on.
posted by mrrisotto at 12:25 PM on May 15, 2013

Seconding Capital Hill area. Also consider around Washington Park and the area around Broadway between say 1st and Alameda-ish.
posted by jasper411 at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2013

I live in Capitol Hill! It fits most of your criteria, although you probably want to find a place with off-street parking, since parking on most streets in the neighborhood can be a giant hassle. People often differ in their definitions/descriptions of where the neighborhood is, but on Craigslist, anything described as being in Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park or Uptown (which is another name for the North Capitol Hill neighborhood) should be in roughly the same part of east-central Denver. You might also consider Congress Park -- it's just east of the general Capitol Hill area, and has more houses than apartment buildings (although it can be pricier).
posted by heurtebise at 1:10 PM on May 15, 2013

I just moved to Denver a few months ago from SC! My advice would be to look for places in Baker, in between Lincoln Park and Speer. That is where I ended up - about 1.5 miles from the heart of downtown, and only one block over from the Santa Fe Art District. They have a whole art walk thing on the first Friday of every month, and a few cool artsy coffee shops nearby as well. My gf works downtown and does not have a car - she walks or bikes. My commute is to Centennial, and it is not terrible. Aurora would probably be easier, as 70 is better to drive on than 25. Cap Hill or Wash Park are also nice areas, as others have said. Good luck on your move!
posted by cccp47 at 1:34 PM on May 15, 2013

Best answer: I live in Uptown/City Park West and I can confirm it's awesome! The difference between Uptown and Cap Hill is that it's North of Colfax. North of Colfax isn't nearly as crammed with apartment complexes, although parking is still a challenge.

This is why the neighborhood is great for a runner: From my house it's exactly a 1 mile run to the entrance of City Park where there's an awesome crushed gravel trail called the Mile High Loop that's exactly 5k (when parts aren't closed off to Museum of Nature and Science construction). The path passes near the zoo and the previously mentioned museum, and there's a spot on the trail where you're headed West and you have a ridiculously awesome view of the big lake at City Park with the Denver skyline behind it and the beautiful Rocky Mountains behind that. There are tons of 5ks and 10ks that happen here on the weekends, and even the Colfax Marathon starts and ends here. Washington Park is by far more popular for runners in Denver, but City Park is the true gem of the city. I've seen coyotes, a bald eagle, and sometimes in the early morning I hear the lions roaring as I run past the zoo. There's a designated bike path on the street that runs down 16th Avenue that's the safest route from Uptown to City Park.

Other things that are great about this neighborhood: there are so many great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that I almost never get in my car to drive somewhere because everything can be walked to or biked to. I used to work downtown and I commuted by walking because it was only 1.5 miles away. You can see awesome live shows at the Fillmore or Ogden theaters, you can browse for books at the Tattered Cover, visit the Botanic Gardens- all an easy bike ride/walk away! Also, if you arrive before the first week of August, you must pack a picnic and bottle of wine and do City Park Jazz on Sunday evening: the entire community will be there.

Yeah! Denver! You will love it!
posted by shornco at 1:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

We moved to Denver about a year ago. My husband works at Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. We bought a house in the Highlands a few months ago. It is also a great walkable neighborhood--we have a local wine store, cheese shop, used bookstore, coffee shop and several restaurants all within a block of our house. I think you should add it to your list of places to consider! Also, you'll find runners pretty much all over town!

Denver is awesome! Get ready for low humidity and very few mosquitoes.
posted by fyrebelley at 3:11 PM on May 15, 2013

Baker seems to me to be the Denver equivalent of where you are now. Welcome! It's awesome here.
posted by TrixieRamble at 9:05 PM on May 15, 2013

We live two blocks from City Park (23rd & High St.) and LOVE it. Our neighborhood is diverse- you have upwardly mobile families (my neighbor across the street is a lawyer) living near renters and even some low income housing. It gives the neighborhood a real feeling of diversity.

We live with quick access to 70 and quick access (biking) to downtown and surrounding areas.

We are anti-suburb as well and really feel the life of the City here.

posted by tunewell at 4:59 AM on May 16, 2013

Just moved from Denver in the Baker area to Florida (feeling a bit homesick). I also concur with craven_morhead's recommendations.
City Park, Congress Park, Uptown, Baker, West Wash Park, Alamo Placita (south of 6th). Cap Hill can be difficult to find parking.

There wil be plenty of places to run and bike. Your husband may have to drive a bit but it isn't too bad. And the mountains are a bit of a drive to the west...Denver is on the plains.

Craigs List is the place to look..just keep looking and maybe search by those locations to get an idea of cost based on your must-haves.

Enjoy a great town.
posted by Kitty Cornered at 7:44 AM on May 23, 2013

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